CORNERSVILLE — Homecoming on the first Friday night of fall saw the Cornersville Bulldogs (2-3, 2-0) coming off a hard-fought victory over the Collinwood Trojans, welcome Rutherford County foe Eagleville Eagles (2-3, 0-1) under a cool evening sky.
Despite another stellar performance from junior running back/defensive end Ben Franklin, the Bulldogs could not overcome three turnovers that led to 21 points by the Eagles as Cornersville suffered its first Region 5-A loss, 28-14.
Franklin rushed for 165 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns and with a new wrinkle in the Bulldog offense — a screen pass that he converted into 61 yards on three receptions.
Junior Blaine Woodard, beginning to find his rhythm in Coach Shelby Waddell’s offense, completed 11-of-34 passes for 151 yards and two interceptions.
The game featured two teams evenly matched, and both gave their respective crowds something to cheer about.
Eagleville won the coin toss, deferred to the second half and Cornersville received the opening kick-off, a quibbler that Kale Adcox for Cornersville smothered at the 28-yard line.
Disaster struck on the second play for Cornersville as the ball popped free on the center exchange and the Eagles recovered at the Bulldog 28-yard line.
Two plays later from 16-yards out, Eagleville’s Jackson Zentz rambled into the end zone for the touchdown, but the PAT was missed and with less than a minute gone in the game the Eagles led, 6-0.
The Bulldogs responded with a 14-play drive featuring Franklin running and pass catching that pushed the ball down field.
Franklin accounted for 25 yards on the ground and 22 yards through the air and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 16-yard scamper, then, Joseth Palma’s PAT split the uprights and the Bulldogs led 7-6 at the 4:20 mark of the first quarter.
After the Cornersville kickoff the Bulldog defense stood up and forced the Eagles to punt on a three-and-out with the ball rolling out of bounds at the Bulldog 23-yard line.
Facing a third and one yard at the Bulldog 32-yard line Franklin took the hand-off rolled to his left, broke free casting aside would be tacklers, made for the sidelines, shaking off more tacklers.
He then broke to the middle of the field as the crowd came to their feet and blazed on as the last Eagle defender finally managed to trip up the big man at the Eagleville 23-yard line.
With the crowd still buzzing from the electric Franklin run, the quarter ended with the Bulldogs threatening and leading 7-6.
The Eagles defense stiffened and the Bulldogs on fourth and three could not convert and the ball went over on downs to Eagleville.
The Bulldog defense dug in and stopped the Eagles again forcing a punt and Cornersville had the ball at their own 25-yard line.
Woodard for Cornersville completed a first down pass to Austin Cooper for 8 yards, then Franklin burst up field for a 14-yard gain and a first down.
Franklin ran for 10 more yards to the 46-yard line of Eagleville but on first down the Eagleville pass rush got to Woodard as he let ball go and his pass was intercepted by Eagleville’s Kolten Daniels, who raced toward the goal line and only Cornersville’s Khi Canty prevented a touchdown by knocking Daniels out of bounds at the Bulldog 18-yard line.
From there the Eagles moved to the Bulldog five-yard line where Kaleb Snitzer for Eagleville roared in to the endzone, then complete a two-point conversion and the Eagles led 14-7 with 3:28 left until halftime.
With time running down until halftime the Bulldogs fought back.
Franklin rushed for a first down at the 47-yard line and after an incompletion, he ran for seven more yards and then for an eight-yard pickup, but the drive stalled when Franklin was stuffed on second down for no gain and an incomplete pass on third and fourth downs that turned the ball over to the Eagles who ran the clock out to halftime with the 14-7 lead.
The Eagles having deferred to the second half Eagleville received the kickoff from Cornersville and began play at the Eagleville 30-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, quarterback Jesse Brown found wideout Elijah Fearns behind the Bulldog defense for a 70-yard touchdown and Alex Bryant nailed the kick after for a 21-7 lead with 20 seconds gone in the third quarter.
The two teams traded punts before Cornersville took over on their own 19-yard line, but a holding penalty set them back to the nine-yard line where the third mistake for the Bulldogs occurred and the fumble was covered by Eagleville.
Brown for Eagleville on second down rush the ball into the end zone and Bryant’s kick was good and the Eagles upped their lead to 21 points with 5:46 left in the third quarter.
With their backs against the wall, the Bulldogs clawed back but the drive was stopped when Fearns intercepted a Woodard pass at the Eagle 35-yard line.
The Eagles lead of 28-7 held to the end of the third quarter but after an Eagleville punt Cornersville began to respond to adversity.
Mixing runs by Woodard and Franklin plus pass completions to Beau Schilleg and Canty, the Bulldogs, although hampered by two holding calls, gained the Eagleville 46-yard line before being forced to turn the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass.
Eagleville could not muster a first down and was forced to give the ball back to Cornersville with 3:08 left.
This was when Franklin brought the Bulldog faithful to their feet again when from the Eagles 45-yard line the Junior running back ran around the right side, shucking would be tacklers as he raced down the sidelines to the Eagleville 5-yard line.
Franklin then capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run and Palma added the PAT to make the score 28-14 with 2:24 left in the game.
The Cornersville onside kick was recovered by the Eagles at their own 49-yard line where despite being held by the Bulldog defense and forced to punt back to the Bulldogs with 1:00 left in the game the Bulldogs could not draw closer, and the game ended with Eagleville the winner 28-14.
Coach Shelby Waddell said after the game, “I can’t doubt our kids’ effort tonight. We have things to clean up and that falls on the coaches and to myself as head coach. Our kids fought hard and we will go back to work Monday. Our goals are still out there and what we must do is put wins on the board.”
The Bulldogs travel to Fayetteville for next Friday’s game with the No. 2 ranked Fayetteville City Tigers.
The season is winding down with only one home game left on October 14 against Wayne County.
Eagleville 6 8 14 0 — 28
Cornersville 7 0 0 7 — 14
E — Jackson Zendt 16 run, (Kick failed).
C — Ben Franklin 16 run, (Joseth Palma kick).
E — Kaleb Snitzer 5 run, (Snitzer 2 pt. conv).
E — Eli Fearns 79 pass from Jesse Brown (Alex Bryant kick).
E — Jesse Brown 5 run, (Bryant kick).
C — Franklin 5 run, (Palma kick).
Cornersville: Ben Franklin 27-165 yds, 2 TD, Blaine Woodard 11-14 yds, Austin Cooper 1-1 yd.
Cornersville: Blaine Woodard 11-34, 151 yards.
Cornersville: Ben Franklin 3-61, Austin Cooper 4-53 yds, Khi Canty 3-27 yds, Blake Estes 1-10 yds.